7 Tips to Creating Fictional Location Names
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Detective Daddy: Me
Apple Aficionado: Josiah
Sir Isaac Newton: Ancestor of the former sippy cup snatcher
Annie Applesmith- town resident
Stephen Savant- town resident
Prologue [summer afternoon, England, 1667]: Sir Isaac Newton rested under the foliage of a large apple tree. The past few weeks have been exhausting—teaching at the science academy, daily research on the peculiar fall of apple from the branches, and on top of it all he came home to tend to his ill mother. Life was busy and constantly in motion. Isaac seemed close to an explanation for a working theory on the subject of gravity—an invisible force in the world. Relying on his previous successes and family name has allowed Isaac to stave off criticism from his scientific peers. “I need some real evidence soon,” though Isaac. “Otherwise, my tenure at the local university will be over! How else will I be able to support my mother?”
Pensively gazing at the ripe red apples from the tree, Isaac remembered how his interest in science began. His father owned an apple orchard and enjoyed telling little Isaac about the various breeds and farming methods to produce the best apple crop. Isaac had a tenuous relationship with his dad, but the topic of apples always provided an easy way to connect. “What if I had more time with him?” thought Isaac. Perhaps if he had a better relationship he would be ready to form a family of his own. “I am thirty-nine with no marital prospects in sight,” Isaac reflected. He needed this scientific breakthrough to come and to come soon. Staring up at the
clouds he started to nod off. His mind kept repeating the some words to himself: “Hopefully the apple does not fall far from the tree; hopefully the apple does not fall far from the tree.”
Summer 2017: Opening his mini-refrigerator in his office, Detective Daddy surveyed his selection of fresh fruit for a small afternoon snack. Grapes, oranges, plums, and strawberries lined the inside rack- the colors providing a kaleidoscopic effect. The private investigator’s eyes did not rest until they landed on a brilliant red, crisp Braeburn. “I need to go to the store,” Detective Daddy said to himself as this was the final apple.
Along with being his favorite fruit, apples held a special place in his heart. Detective Daddy remembered fond memories of yearly trips to the apple orchard with his family. An apple a day kept his deductive skills from decaying. Recently pulled out of retirement due to the emergence of the Sippy Cup Snatcher, the veteran gumshoe quickly got back into his routine. Within the last month, he solved 15 cases! “Headquarters better promote me to super-sleuth,” thought Detective Daddy.
Later that day: Within the heart of the town, the Sippy Cup Snatcher forlornly meandered up and down the streets. Fresh on parole from his recent stint in timeout from stealing sippy cups and causing shenanigans, the former criminal enjoyed the first moments of freedom. Pilfering water holders did not interest him anymore—no, the Sippy Cup Snatcher set his sights on a far sweeter reward—arboreal antics.
Annie’s Apple Orchard [city limits]: Detective Daddy received a call from an anxious owner of the town’s favorite orchard Annie Applesmith. People also wondered if her surname motivated Annie to continue the family business. Unfortunately, that tale will take too long to tell as Detective Daddy discovered key clues to crack this case. Scattered across the grassy rows of the orchard were a plethora of bruised apples. “Muscles, bruises, strong, disregard for apples feelings,” the sleuth uttered to himself. “Annie, I think I have a lead,” declared Detective Daddy. “But I need more evidence. Call me if you see any other suspicious activity” he said.
Municipal Library [downtown]: Stephen Savant, the town’s head librarian called Detective Daddy exactly 9.80 days from the incident at Annie’s Apple Orchard. “Detective, I found strange shenanigans that occurred in our non-fiction section”.
After arriving at the library and questioning Mr. Savant, Detective Daddy scoured the crime scene [The non-fiction science section]. Both rows of bookshelves consisted of books stacked in orderly manner. A lone book laid half-open on the floor– Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica. “Eureka!” exclaimed Detective Daddy. A couple of elderly library regulars put their fingers to their lips to hush him. The private eye was interrupting a compelling discussion of Willa Cather’s My Antonia. “Sorry,” apologized Detective Daddy. “Wrong mathematician! I know where our Apple Aficionado will strike next,” he stated.
Pink Lady Park [9.80 days later]: With the help of Annie Applesmith and Stephen Savant, Detective Daddy waited in his granny smith apple colored car. They waited and waited what seemed like 9.80 hours. “According to my watch, we waited exactly 9.80 hours,” stated Stephen.
As Detective Daddy deduced the Apple Aficionado made his move. Circular objects started falling out of the sky and landing on the sleuth’s car. “THUD, THUD, THUD!” It sounds like a hail storm outside. Exiting the car, Detective Daddy yelled, “Stop! I know what you are doing. You almost had us fooled.” Annie and Stephen prepared themselves for an intense chase scene which would ultimately lead to Detective Daddy’s record 16th solved case for the month.
Nothing of that transpired. Instead, Detective Daddy praised the Apple Aficionado. “I would like to offer you a job on my team—as lead scientific inquirer. You almost had me fooled and thinking you reverted back to your cute capered ways.” Detective Daddy went on to fill Annie and Stephen in on the motivation of the Apple Aficionado. He was the long lost descendent of the great scientist Isaac Newton. The penchant for apples and idiosyncratic interest in integers pointed toward the English scientist’s study and discovery of the law of gravity. “Let me guess, the Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in the library sealed the case?!” exclaimed Stephen. “Yes, all I needed was one last observance to test my hypothesis…the apple does not fall far from the tree,” stated Detective Daddy.
Detective Daddy arrived back in his office later that week. “Great, it has arrived,” He told the figure sitting in the chair before his desk. The private investigator replaced his old door sign with a plaque that read:
D.D. and A.A.
No Crime too Small to Solve
Mark Twain once wrote, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” While I do not fully understand the meaning of the great American author’s words I find myself drawn to the concept that reality is odd, weird, peculiar, and problematic. Seeming senseless suffering occurs daily throughout the globe: wars, famine, and violation of human rights. I do not want this post to turn into a philosophical treatise on the problem of evil. [please refer to the writings of St. Augustine or The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis for a clearer and more authoritative outline of the issue than myself !] To be clear, although I experienced a push from reality toward despair when things get overwhelmed, it is interesting that fiction pulls me away from this strangeness and helps center myself.
Over the past year, I have delved into the DC Comics Universe- the realm of Superman, Batman, The Flash, and Green Lantern. I am most recently reading a voluminous story arc from the New 52 series on Superman! I think I finally realized why I am drawn to and experience calming graces in the medium of comics.
1. Larger than Life, Yet Relatable Characters: Stories portray transformation and inner conflicts within characters. Superhero comics contain traditional character developments. They also add layers to the story through its main actors possessing enhanced powers. Instead of alienating the reader, I find I am drawn into a comic book through the device of the dual identity of a superhero—their superhero appellation and their secret identity.
I will use Barry Allen/The Flash as an example because I loving running and the main power of this character revolve around speed and endurance. Most versions have Barry’s desire to help others stemming from the death of his mother at a young age. Later endowed with super-speed and Speed-Force powers from a lightning in a laboratory, Barry soon dons the mantle of The Flash! Despite his ability to nearly travel at the speed of light, Barry oftentimes has to slow down to solve both personal and professional problems. By reading these comics this superhero appeals to me because I sometimes tend to be impatient and act rashly at times.
2. Alleviation through Art: I am a visual learner. Illustrations bring me closer to the events of the comic book story. When I am reviewing books to check out from the library, one of the things I look for in a good comic is appealing artwork. The Blackest Night Green Lantern story-line contained popping colors and heroes decked in hues highlighting their unique power rings. I felt like I dove into a verbal kaleidoscope in that crossover event. I cannot quite put my finger on it but something about the artwork of the New 52 DC Series soothes my anxiety. Without alleviation through art, I would return an unread story back to the library as opposed to diving further into the comic book universe.
3. In a galaxy far, far away…there is no place like home: Along with the character development of DC’s superheroes [and even non-powered support characters] and the beautiful art, I have come to greatly enjoy the move to solar system based settings. Although strangeness abounds in the various planetary systems and alternative timelines, I get a sense of excitement and wonder instead of fear from my mind travels to exotic scenes!
The freshness is anchored by the stability of the characters in the DC universe. Despite reading a revisionist version of Superman, Batman, or other heroes, a certain familiarity and tradition still remains front and center. Traveling on these journeys provide small interludes of rest from the weariness of reality. For instance, the phones were going of the hook at my job today. I encountered strange and perplexing questions I never dealt with before. During my break time, I become an observer of Superman’s battle against his archenemy– Brainiac. I returned to the real world energized to complete my day’s remaining work.
Pontius Pilate asked Jesus Christ a question that in an old as time but still fresh and relevant today, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Truth, reality, actuality is a perplexing thing to grasp. Humanity is not called to fully understand the mysteries of the universe yet creation is laden with hints at what the purpose of the real world is all about. What I have learned it that created truth—i.e. fiction– helps orient myself toward realizing my purpose of this life. Through the gift of fiction, I acquire a renewed and broader perspective when I return to the “real world”. I will leave you to ponder the wisdom of J.R.R. Tolkien legendary creator of Middle Earth and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Referring to fantasy as a natural human activity he states,
I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?
Here is a continuation of a funny short story— based on characters I created from the antics of my oldest son in 2013.
Detective Daddy: Me
Concerned citizens: Jenny (my wife) and Amelia
Reformed Puzzler Pilfer [now a concerned citizen]: Noah
Sippy Cup Snatcher: Josiah
Prologue [set in spring 2013]: Detective Daddy was notified at 10am about a strange series of nocturnal occurrences at the Chicoine household. Several puzzle pieces have gone missing in the past week or two. A local citizen and concerned mother heard loud noises emitting from our son’s room. Upon entering she caught the Puzzle Pilferer red-handed!! He was dropping them down the heat vent. When Jenny questioned him about his dastardly deeds, this notorious fellow simply said “Uh-oh” and “Uh-hah”. Last afternoon when Detective Daddy returned home, he enlisted Jenny in sweeping the crime scene (Air Ventilation System) nothing was to be found. Looks like the Puzzler Pilferer will have to undergo a rigorous and unconventional interrogation method (Stay in timeout corner and rescinding him privilege of having a basketball and toy cars). Meanwhile the citizens of the Chicoine household will diligently search for those missing cognitive development toys. Time will tell whether things will settle down and the Puzzler Pilfer truly has been rehabilitated.
Present day: Returning from his Saturday afternoon run, the retired Detective Daddy rested in his front yard. Running always provided opportunity for him reflect on his life. Things have greatly changed in the past four years Daddy thought—but his family is in a better place!
Completing his most famous case and nabbing the Puzzle Pilferer that cool April night a few years ago was exhilarating. It also was taxing. The rehabilitation process, to reform the Puzzler Pilferer, took a lot out of the former private investigator. Moving to a new city, retiring from detective work, and taking up a low-key desk job as a mortgage modification specialist took away the stress of his previous career. However, there was always a certain restlessness Daddy had. A certain anxiety about whether he truly overcame the mischievous of the Puzzle Pilferer. Do shenanigans go ever forever or do they simply arise up again under a different guise and persona?
Citizens of the Chicoine household lamented over a precipitous precipitation related predicament—they were missing water from their sippy cups! Now as you may know, water is the most important natural resource known to man. The human body is composed of nearly 75% of H20. Initially, Daddy did not take these concerns too seriously. Perhaps the citizens simply drank the water and forgot they did so because of their engrossment within the ninja movies played at the local park theater [i.e. Living Room T.V.]. Instead of waning, the cries and citizenly concerns only increased as the week progressed.
Reluctantly, Daddy realized he had to don the deerstalker once again and become Detective Daddy! This mystery certainly eclipsed his case of the Puzzle Pilferer. An aquatic attack is an attack on the Chicoine water way of life. Pretending to do dishes, Detective Daddy waited until this mysterious Sippy Cup Snatcher revealed himself or herself. After what felt like hours [really only 5 minutes!] a two-foot tall toddler, with cuteness to kill, ambled across the local park [Living Room] and quickly snatched a green sippy cup. Leaning his head back, he chugged a few sips and proceeded to chuck the cup against the wall. Next he pirated water from his sister’s blue sippy cup!
Detective Daddy solved the mysterious identity of the Sippy Cup Snatcher, but the real challenge begins—building a case and a rehabilitation program to reform the Chicoine household’s most recent miscreant. Will our favorite private eye prevail or will this new friendly faced-foe best Detective Daddy? Will these shenanigans continue for good? Why does the Sippy Cup Snatcher only like green and blue cups? Will we discover the favorite shape of the reformed Puzzle Pilfer?
Last week we looked at the first novel in C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy- Out of the Silent Planet. Today I want to provide my thoughts and analysis of his second installment of his Space Trilogy– Perelandra. Like the diversity of the planets of our solar system so too does Lewis paint another vivid portrayal of Dr. Ransom’s trip to Earth’s other neighbor—Venus.
The book opens up with Dr. Elwin Ransom a few years removed from his celestial journey to Malancandra [Mars]. Here he receives an assignment from Oyarsa—the angelic ruler of Malacandra—to travel to Perendra [Venus] to thwart an attack by Satan! Before I continue on with the synopsis, I want to point out something interesting I discovered about the first name of Dr. Ransom. While I do not necessary know the exact motivation for Lewis’ selection of appellations I think it is telling, along with a type of foreshadowing, that Elwin is a splicing together of the ancient word for God plus win thus equaling God wins as a meaning of the main character’s name!
Now to go back to the story, Ransom travels to the second planet from the Sun in a coffin-like spaceship and wakes up to a vastly different world from his time on Malancandra. Kaleidoscopic and oceanic, Perelandra is largely composed of fluid raft-like islands and the planet contained a singular geographic feature called the Fixed Land. Unlike his first space adventure, Ransom initially only encounters a single rational being—known as the Queen of the planet, an Eve-like figure. The green-skinned Queen hints at Ransom’s mission of savior and prevention of a reenactment of the Genesis Fall when she says, “that in your world Maleldil [Jesus] first took Himself this form, the form of your race and mine…Since our Beloved became a man, how should Reason in any world take on another form?” (p. 54). What the Queen refers to is that the Incarnation of God only happened once—on Earth.
It is not until the antagonist Weston from the first novel suddenly arrives on the scene that the battle over Perelandra begins. Through a constant onslaught of materialistic arguments Weston, who is possessed by the Devil, tried to get the Queen to disobey Maleldil’s order to avoid sleeping a night on the Fixed Land.
Weston continues to charismatically expand on his reasons for the Green Lady to disobey Maleldil and spend a night on the Fixed Land. He focuses on the fact that this command does not really seem to make much sense and urges her that rules are meant to be broken. The possessed Weston says, “These other commands of His—to love, to sleep, to fill this world with your children—you see for yourself they are good. And they are the same in all worlds. But the command against living on the Fixed Land is not so. You have already learned he gave no such command to my world. And you cannot see where the goodness of it is. No wonder. If it were really good, must He not have commanded it to all worlds alike? For how could Maleldil not command what is good? There is no good in it. Maleldil Himself is showing you that, this moment, through your own reason. It is mere command. It is forbidding for the mere sake of forbidding” (p. 100). Eventually, the diabolical argument posed by Weston crescendos when he tells the Queen the side effects of the First Fall on Earth—namely Maleldil becoming Incarnate to save humanity.
While hope is seemingly lost, Dr. Ransom realizes through a guidance of the divine voice that he himself is the savior of Perelandra. Lewis writes, “What happened on Earth, when Maleldil was born man at Bethelham, had altered the universe for ever. The new world of Perelandra was not merely a repetition of the old world Tellus. Maleldil never repeated himself. One of the purposes for which He had done all this was to save Perelandra not through Himself but through Himself in Ransom” (p. 123) Ransom eventually defeats the Un-man [Satanic possessed Weston] and the Queen is reunited with the King and the heavenly bliss continues on Perelandra. Finally, Ransom returns to Earth and continues to follow Maleldil’s mission to fight evil.
I loved reading this book! Like Out of the Silent Planet I give Perelandra four out of five stars. The only real downside to the book was the minimal amount of characters used throughout the novel. Aside from that issue, I enjoyed the abundant and colorful descriptions of the planet and the theological insight provided by Lewis. So far this is the only book I have ever read that satisfies my speculative theological appetite and scientific curiosity about extraterrestrial life. The author also provides a compelling explanation for how life may exist on other planets without contradicting the Christian truth of Jesus Christ as the sole mediator. Due to the linear nature of time, God never repeats Himself and as a result only one Incarnational event took place—2,000 years ago in Israel. Our mission as Christians if intelligent life exists outside of Earth is to unite ourselves to the One Mediator and evangelize. I highly recommend this book to any curious soul that loves C.S. Lewis, space travel, or theology!